Tuesday, November 1, 2011

11/1/11 The Unlikely Seattleite or SAD-R-Us

I'm cold and I'm outta here.
I imagine it's silly to
jump on a cruise ship at my age
and float around playing Jenga all day
in the sunny Bahamas.
Dirty job,
but somebody has to do it.
As my old roommate Joan would say,
"Right?"
I need sun.
I'm the most unlikely Seattle native
you ever met!
Even with my SAD lamp above my bed for
reading four hours a night
and my other SAD light three inches from my
face for an hour every morning while
I read The Seattle Times,
I'm still depressed.
Every time someone tells me they moved here
from San Diego or Denver
I go into internal shock.
I act like it doesn't surprise me
but my inner voice is shouting,
"Are you crazy?!"
When I was a flight attendant,
I learned that every other place in the world
has more sun than Seattle.
I felt totally validated by the
'Twilight' series.
I've thought about moving but I'd hate to miss
summer in Seattle!
August 7th through the 17th.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

10/30/2011 There's Someone Sitting in My Chair

Oh!
My chair moved.
I just sat on another teenager.
Where do they all come from anyway?
I guess I should turn up the lights before
I sit down with my coffee.
I feel like Goldilocks.
After I found someone sleeping in my chair
I went to sit on my couch.
But there was another one there.
Friends of Troy.
I'm glad he is popular and all that
but this is ridiculous.
I can't wait to hear all about his
adventure at the homecoming dance.
When he put on his black Nikes with his tuxedo
last night to leave
I nearly died!
I begged and pleaded with him to put on his dress shoes.
I hope he didn't make his date cry.
The apple didn't fall far from the tree with Troy.
His dad's idea of dressing up is a forest green t-shirt
without a hole in the arm pit.
Terry has twenty-four tee-shirts.
All forest green.
He will wear his dress shoes to weddings and funerals
so Troy didn't get much fashion role-modeling there.
If I had a daughter,
I could get the homecoming dance story retold for four hours
with pots of coffee and tea and all the details.
As it is,
when the lumps get out of my chair and off my couch,
I'll get a few grunts.

Friday, October 28, 2011

11/27/2011 Fear Factor When Leaving for My Cruise Ship Job

There are so many dangerous things on a cruise ship
that it's not even funny.
Below-deck stairs that are more like ladders.
Watertight doors that can squish you in half,
and the biggest danger;
my runaway imagination.
With my claustrophobia,
my fear of being assigned a cabin below
the waterline is now out of control.
That is my biggest fear.
My smallest fear is getting a top bunk
since I'm a Bladder Day Saint,
a condition that night time does not abate.
In between those fears is the fact that unlike my last
ship job, our youth center does not close mid-day
so I can take a nap.
I'm now afraid I'll fall asleep at work,
get thrown in the brig (yes, they do have them)
get fired
and get put off at the next port
without airfare home. (Fact of ship life if fired)
With our charge card over the limit,
I'll have to hitchhike from Miami to Seattle
or worse yet,
I'll get put off at
Stirrup Cay in the Bahamas
and have to live my last twenty-four years there.
Wait, that might be a good thing!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

10/27/2011 In Touch With My Inner Mammal

I stared at the empty plate on my kitchen counter.
Well, it wasn't completely empty,
it was covered in toast crumbs.
Next to it was my deformed Tupperware
butter holder that I had melted one side of somehow.
It was empty too.
I might be a little too in touch
with my inner mammal.
I am in full preparation for hibernation.
My animal biology is telling me to
suck the juicy fat from the crispy sides of pot-roasts
and eat cubes of butter.
Need to fatten up for the long winter ahead.
Just as well I didn't get hired to teach full time here.
I would have just kept gaining weight if I stayed home.
So I'm off to New York next week
to work the cruises down to the Bahamas
and help the kids in Splashdown youth center have fun.
What better way to fight off
my inner mammal?

Monday, October 24, 2011

10/24/2011 I Love My New Ice Cube Trays

I was just staring at the water
running over my tilted ice cube tray.
I fill them at an angle because
I like to pretend I'm making
miniature waterfalls.
Then I remembered why I love
my new ice cube trays.
Well, they aren't really new,
since I got them last summer and
they did come from Saint Vincent DePaul,
but anything bought after 1990 is
new to me.
So what I love about my new ice cube trays is
that they are perfectly symmetrical.
You know what that means don't you?
Once they are full of water
you don't have to waste any time
looking for the "right end"
to stack them up.
And I OWN three of them!
How lucky is that?!
Like I have time to look at an ice cube
tray and line up the ends if they don't match!
Brenda says I'm odd that way.
I own twenty-four identical white socks,
and twenty-four identical black socks.
She says that is not normal.
I think having to match socks is not normal.
So really,
what is normal?
Doesn't everyone long to own symmetrical
ice cube trays?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/23/2011 Lake Serene, What a Nightgown!

The angry roar of the helicopter blades
matched my mood as we approached Lake Serene.
When we emerged from the forest towards the lake
we could see the helicopter lifting a body-basket,
and then it was gone.
We looked down the steep cliff to the lake and
wondered what had happened.
Terry and I had just transitioned from
health club friends and coworkers to dating.
This was not a good start.
He had picked out the Lake Serene hike from a
hiking book published in 1975 and assured me
it would be a snap.
Maybe, if you are six foot three, two hundred pounds
and used to gaining 2,000 feet in elevation in
2,000 feet of hiking.
I had my little black skipperpoodle Susie,
as usual, and the "trail" ended up being
a vertical ladder of wet, slimy roots.
Terry carried Susie like a fluffy football
under one arm and led the way.
By the time we reached the top
I was tired, hungry and thirsty.
Terry said it was a short hike so we hadn't brought any food.
After a half hour of hiking around the lake,
trying get cheered by the viewing the pristine beauty,
I gave up and wanted to go home.
The clouds were gathering black in the late afternoon sky,
but didn't come close to my mood!
We started back down which was way harder than going up.
By the time I was on the logging road out
I told Terry, "If you wanted to break up,
you didn't have to try to kill me, you could
JUST SAY SO!"
I hiked ahead to the car and waited for him.
I didn't speak a word to him
for two months.
When he did show up at my apartment with chocolate and flowers
two months later,
I caved in and we resumed dating.
We laugh about it now twenty-five years later.
That was in 1986 and the trail was closed for a long time
and listed in hiking books,
"Trail closed due to extreme danger."

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

10/18/2011 Oh Miss, Is This Your Pumpkin?

I was sitting with my eyes tightly closed,
stiff-armed on my hands
with my chin tucked down on my chest
running the evacuation commands through
my head over and over again,
Bend Over Heads Down! Come This Way!
JUMP AND SLIDE!"
I was as stiff as a board with fear.
I'm not afraid to fly,
I'm afraid to crash.
Watching videos of every single commercial plane crash
in history during training didn't help much either.
Still, I survived training,
went on to have a lady puke on my feet
during my first flight
and learned that I too get airsick during turbulence.
Besides all that, it was pretty exciting to use my free
flight benefits for the first time.
I got my wings in April and was still on reserve in October
and decided to go see my mom and dad in Malta Montana.
(Smallta, as mom called it)
I flew up to Billings and connected to a crop-duster to Wolf Point.
Mom and dad were so excited to see me in my uniform.
And I was happy to see them too because it
turns out I get home sick easily also.
We had a grand old time visiting for four days and my mom
gave me a big pumpkin to put in the crew room for Halloween.
Only snag is pumpkins roll during take off.
Bet ya didn't know that.
So the plane has taken off and I start breathing again
and looked down to where I had put the pumpkin
under the empty aisle seat.
It was gone.
I craned my neck to look at the aft jump-seat
and the man flight attendant was holding it on his lap.
Oh man! I was so sure I'd get fired!
A few minutes later I heard a voice say,
"Oh miss, is this your pumpkin?"
I weakly admitted to my crime and he said,
"Well, you certainly woke us up. It's not every day
a pumpkin comes hurtling down the aisle at us
like a bowling ball!"
I turned bright red and asked if I was going to get fired
and he just started laughing.
So, the moral of this story is:
When flying with pumpkins, use the overheads.

10/18/2011 Fee Fi Fo Foo, Peeyou!

I'm excited to go work on The Jewel for the holidays.
I can't wait to get away from my teenagers.
So many people asked me about being away for Christmas
that I thought maybe I should feel guilty.
So I asked Teddy how he felt about it.
He said, "Mom, I'm fifteen. Do you honestly think
there is anything you could buy me
that I wouldn't complain about?
It's not like we're little kids anymore."
I love that kid.
Except at laundry time.
I nearly lost my coffee at the odor
and kept thinking,
"Fee fi fo foo,
someone flipped
over the canoe."
My kids rarely talk to me
but what they don't say,
their clothes do!
Soaking wet, slimy clothes
clearly indicating a flip-over.
At least they didn't drown
so that's a blessing.
Fee fi foo foo,
my stinky life
upon the slough.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/17/2011 Lazy Girl Split Pea Soup Recipe

1 Go to Safeway and pray split peas are on sale
2 Wish you could afford Kool Aid packets
for the kids but you can't so you keep walking. Buy Peas.
3 Go home and cut the bag of peas open and pour in a pot of water
4 Wonder if you'll get a horrible illness because you didn't
rinse them off but figure you won't since you haven't
followed those directions in thirty years
5 Start the pot to boil and set the timer so you don't burn it
then turn it off because you are too tired to deal with the peas
6 Dig through your freezer until you find your
Christmas ham hock
7 Throw that in a really big pot to boil to loosen the meat
8 Put the ham pot with loose meat in the fridge until the next day to cool off
9 Take the ham pot out of the fridge the next day
and warm it up so your hands don't get cold.
10 Cut the chunks of meat off and toss them in
what you hope is going to turn into pea soup
11 Wonder how many ham hocks your mom cooked in her
lifetime and wish she hadn't died so you
could take her some soup later
12 Put in as much ham as you can before the pots spills over
13 Wonder if your sons eat enough soup that they
would consider careers in landscaping since they'll
be very strong and you hate yard work
14 Wonder if it is ham that Jewish people don't eat
and try to think of how you could ask that question
tactfully to a Jewish person without offending them
15 Add some salt and pepper and a bit of butter, bring to boil
and then turn the heat down to low so you can take a
nap without burning down the house
16 Find out it came out well and feel very good about yourself

10/17/2011 Bad Jelly Rice Pudding Recipe

1 Wake up in the last week of September and notice it sprinkling
and remember you forgot to pick blackberries
2 Hit the Dogpatch blackberry patch only to find most of the
berries moldy and watery tasting and too seedy
3 Pick four cups of bad berries before getting
distracted by a woolly worm that is almost all black
4 Waste a half hour playing with it and daydreaming
about going to the woolly worm festival in North Carolina
5 Take four cups of blackberries and squeeze through
your new brown kitchen towel because your cheesecloth is MIA
6 Read your 'Putting Food By' book again about how
how our great-grandmothers made jam by 'boiling it down'
7 Try that only to disregard the recipe since you can't be bothered
8 After six hours decide it is still too runny and add
two more cups of sugar
9 Realize you made bad jelly that is now the consistency of taffy
10 Stare at it in the bowl for a week before deciding to throw it out
11 Tell Teddy that you are throwing it out only to have him tell you
not to waste food and to think of something else to put it in
12 Make some rice and add vanilla and cinnamon before boiling
13 Stir the bad jelly into the hot rice and be surprised that
Teddy was right because it melts right in!
14 Add some milk and watch with dismay as the kids gobble it down
15 Thank God that you didn't call Art at Northshore garage and tell him
that you were bringing him blackberry jelly
because it didn't work out for you

Saturday, October 15, 2011

10/15/2011 Don't Pass That Smokey Brenda!

I could hear the siren.
I just knew it.
We were being pulled over in the middle of
God Knows Where Texas.
I had been busily studying my flashcards of airport
codes as we crossed Texas on our way to Houston.
I looked up and saw the state trooper car ahead
and noticed Brenda was NOT slowing down.
I yelled, "Don't pass that smokey Brenda!"
I could predict exactly what she would say and I wasn't disappointed.
"He's driving like an old grandma!"
I mean, it was only eight hours ago that the truckers in
Arizona had warned us to slow down in Texas or end up in jail.
You'd think she was from Ballard the way she drives.
So Brenda pulls over and the trooper is a lady.
Next thing I know I'm peering out the back window
of my hot red and black Rally Sport Camaro
and Brenda is standing next to the trooper's car behind
my car and I hear her say loudly, "Would you like a date?"
She is holding out a sack of dates to the trooper and
realizes that might sound funny to a woman.
So she starts laughing really hard.
Then she realizes we might end up in jail and starts sobbing hysterically.
At that point I jumped out of the car and walked back
to see if there was anything I could do, or in Brenda's case, undo.
The trooper looks up at me and I see myself mirrored in her sunglasses.
Brenda and I were wearing matching muu muus, baseball hats
and alphabet shoes.
I see her eyebrows raise a fraction of an inch.
"Where are you girls from?" She asked me frowning.
I told her we were from Seattle on our way to Houston
so I could start flight attendant training the next day.
At this point I'm praying that we don't go to jail.
I had only applied for five years and been rejected
five dozen times before I got hired and I'm thinking,
"This is not happening."
A $160.00 ticket later, we were on our way
and
I was driving.

Friday, October 14, 2011

10/14/2011 No Salida Senor

It takes about four hours
to get from Houston to Cleveland.
The nicest people I ever met
working for Continental were from Cleveland.
The all seemed so happy.
And polite.
My buddy-bidder Theresa and I bid those flights a lot.
Dever to Cleveland, Houston to Cleveland,
if the scheduled showed Cleveland,
I wanted to go.
One of my favorites was the Los Angeles to Cleveland red-eye.
Nothing like going over area 51 to wake me right up.
We'd be done with the service by then so I'd take
my coffee break in the cockpit.
Captain Charming Charlie and F/O Tom Bell didn't mind.
There are small windows on the top of the cockpits
on the 737s which made watching for UFOs a snap.
My favorite thing was to take the leftover apples
to the Hilton Hotel and toss them off the balcony.
Those little hedge hogs would sit up like tiny dogs
begging for those juicy tiny red delicious apples.
We don't have hedge hogs in Seattle so I was pretty gaga
about seeing them at six o'clock in the morning.
It always made me laugh and smile and relaxed me.
I was needing relaxing one morning,
because at four AM a Mexican man got down all his luggage
from the overhead bin and came up to the front
jump seat where I had parked myself and said,
"Salida porfavor."
Well, I sure hadn't seen the fasten seat belt sign come on
so I got up and looked out the window.
We were at about 10,000 feet up!
I had to be firm with this man
and say, "No Salida Senior!"

10/14/2011 Yo Vello Caliente!

I was feeling fairly smug
with my Spanish
after working the flights into Merida from Houston
for six months.
I had learned all the basic greetings
with Senor Huranga on the TV
in Mrs. Jepson's classroom in 1967.
In addition to hola, and adios,
I could say some fruit juice names like
Manzana and naranga jugo.
I loved Merida. The white city.
All white and spotless.
We landed one night and had lots of chicken
left over in the ovens.
I wanted the cleaners to take it home so it
wouldn't get wasted and thrown away.
I yelled at them over and over again,
"Yo Vello Caliente!"
And pointed at the ovens.
I thought I was yelling,
"I have hot chicken for you!"
I was getting pretty annoyed that they
didn't want my hot chicken.
It wasn't like I burned it or anything.
As the last passenger got the last of his belongings
he turned to me and said,
"Why were you yelling that you had a hot flight at the cleaners?"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

10/14/2011 JoAnn and the Marshmallow Sticks

"Um, JoAnn, how far is the tent from your face?" I said.
"About six inches I'd say." JoAnn said.
This was not the highlight of our girl's camping trip
to the ocean.
It only got worse.
It sounded like such a good idea to go in October
to see the fall colors.
We had packed up her tiny brown Toyota Celica
and I got the impression
she hadn't done a lot of camping.
When I got hired at the Bothell Post Office
she took to me like grease on a
Ranch Drive-In cheeseburger.
We became good enough friends to go camping together.
Only snag was, that dirty dog, Tom Bell,
sold her a cool tent and forgot to put the tent poles in the bag.
We arrived at Lake Quilleuite campground around four in the afternoon
and we started goofing off in the forest
and hiking around the lake having a good old time.
The sun went down around seven and we started to get cold.
We built a small fire that didn't warm us up much so around nine
we started putting up the tent and realized we had no tent poles.
"No problem" I said, "We'll just use sticks."
By then it was pitch black out
and we had forgotten flashlights.
We were looking in the area we could see by the firelight.
We found sticks all right.
Bent, slimy old marshmallow sticks someone left behind.
We slid the gooey sticks into her tent pole slots
and got in our sleeping bags.
It started raining.
As the tent got heavier and heavier,
the sticks kept bending closer and closer to our faces.
When the tent was on our faces we gave up.
We climbed into her tiny car,
covered our wet selves
with wet sleeping bags and tried to sleep.
She was snoring in no time.
But I'm afraid of the dark.
AND we were the only ones in the campground.

10/14/2011 Hop In Mr. Simpson

I delivered plenty of strange things
during my ten years on the mail routes.
Coconuts, cremains, a car.
Yes, you read right!
Mr. Powell joined a "Build-A-Car" club
and every week for three years
I delivered a new part.
The seven foot exhaust pipe just barely fit
in my tiny mail jeep.
In the blistering summer of 1980,
I had just finished 'Putting the Right Mail
in the Right Box',
when I looked in my mirror and saw Mr. Simpson
coming up the hill.
He looked terrible!
I jumped out of my truck and ran to him
and could tell he had heat exhaustion.
He told me he had walked from Holly Hills down to
the Woodinville Dairy Queen for lunch and didn't feel good.
Well, duh! It was almost ninety degrees out!
I opened the back of my mail truck,
moved my empty trays and said,
"Hop in Mr. Simpson."
He pretzeled up his huge six foot frame into
the back of my tiny jeep and off we went.
I pulled up to the house and opened the jeep door
and dashed up his driveway and got Irene.
"Mrs. Simpson", I said, "I have a special delivery for you."
We went down and helped Mr. Simpson up to the house
and I went on my merry way.
Mr. Simpson was possibly my strangest delivery
and I forgot to collect postage!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

10/12/2011 TV Without the TV

One of my favorite jobs was working in the
terminal annex for the United States Postal Service
in downtown Seattle on 4th and Lander.
I was working late swing shift
which really agreed with me since I'm not a morning person.
I had washed out on the ZMT machines and was happy to have a job.
The ZMT machines were these giant mail-sorting machines
that looked like a type-writer had fooled around with
a giant mail-sorting machine.
I could only get up to 58 cards a minute
typing the first three numbers of the zipcode with my left hand
and the last two numbers of the zip code with my right hand.
Only Asian people were smart enough and coordinated enough for that job.
Luckily my supervisor noticed I was always on time and tried really hard so I
was hired as an NTE to sort flats. NTEs are ninety day temporary employees.
Every night my new buddy Sue Mercer and I
took our dinner break around ten PM.
The coolest thing was watching TV without a TV.
There was a mail-handler that could memorize the ENTIRE dialogue
from a TV show from the previous night.
Out of the blue, he would stand up
and start the dialogue of the two main characters.
He would move his body to face the air
where the other character was supposed to be.
I really enjoyed how he would raise or lower
his voice so we knew if he was a man or woman.
Usually after a few sentences we'd guess which show
and then the plot was really easy to follow.
We had some good entertainment those ninety days.

10/12/2011 Snake-In-The-Box

People that know me well,
know that I am jumpy.
They approach me slowly, waving their arms
from a bit of an angle to make sure I see them.
Otherwise they know I’m prone to shrieking.
I do that when surprised or startled or both.
I don’t know why God made me this way
but I do know that it disturbs people.
I am a sociable, outgoing person.
Just a bit jumpy that’s all.
So you can just imagine what happened
when I was cruising up Hollyhills Avenue in my mail jeep,
and I opened the mailbox door
and there was a snake sitting about a foot from my face.
Who knew garter snakes could coil up?
I hadn't ever looked at one from eye level before.
I didn’t know that they had really sharp looking fangs
and that their tongues are split and wave horizontally.
Too much information!
I shrieked and threw the mail up in the air and it landed all over the ground.
Surprisingly, I didn’t crash my jeep.
I managed to pull ahead of the big wooden
double mailbox stand and park my jeep.
I got out and stood their shaking in my
sturdy black femailman shoes and blue suit.
Mr. Isenhour came out to see what the commotion was
and I showed him the snake, which hadn’t budged.
He pulled it out and picked up all the mail and put it in the boxes for me.
Like the dogs weren’t bad enough!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

10/11/2011 Mom, You Play Left Guard Defense

It's rare for my teens
to do more than grunt at me.
Yesterday, when Teddy came home from football practice,
smelling like a wet dog that had rolled in it,
he told me he wanted to show me all his new football moves.
I was surprised and happy that he was speaking to me.
"Mom, you play left guard defense." He said.
I got out of my beloved recliner
trying to remember that position.
I've only watched his first five games
and I knew that was one of the positions he played.
I bent down and summoned my inner linebacker.
I tried to look mean.
Then he came flying at me and did a roll thing
over my right shoulder.
I was so surprised.
I stood up and looked at him with wide eyes.
At first I had nothing to say because I had no idea what that play was.
"Isn't that great mom?!" He said.
"Oh yes, that was the best offensive play I've ever seen!" I exclaimed.
I'm still not real clear about all these football terms yet,
but I love my child.
He may be a pain in the butt sometimes,
but he's my pain in the butt.

10/11/2011 Sure I Had Mace

I did use Mace once.
I was delivering mail along Magnolia Boulevard
on a sunny spring day in 1978.
As I walked past some low box hedges to a big red brick house,
a tiny wiener doggy shot out of nowhere and nipped my ankle.
I grabbed my Mace and sprayed him.
I turned that protective little dog
into a monster!
Every day for the rest of that week,
I'd be walking along
lost in my little,
Get the Right Mail in The Right Box world,
and the tiny Monster Dog
would be hiding under the box hedge waiting to attack me.
I hated that.
When I was assigned a new route down along the flats of Magnolia,
I got nervous. I had driven down 34th Avenue West
on my way back to the tiny post office on West McGraw
and noticed tons of dogs. Big dogs.
Not the tiny designer dogs of the rich people.
My first day on the route,
a huge golden lab barked at me as I approached his house.
I knew golden labs were friendly but I had a surprise for him.
I tossed him a Milk Bone.
He started following me up the street.
Then his friends showed up and I gave them all Milk Bones.
Every day for two weeks I had six dogs following me
up one side of the street and down the other.
Sure I had Mace.
But it was way more fun being the Pied Piper of Magnolia!

Monday, October 10, 2011

10/10/11 Sitka and the Jelly Doughnut

When I think back to my ten years of carrying mail,
what pops into my head is dogs.
Dogs growling at me, trying to bite me, dogs biting me...
Well, you get the picture.
When Gary had his hernia surgery,
I was lucky enough to be assigned route 17.
After being on a different mail route every day
for six months, three months on the same route
in beautiful BotHell was like going on a vacation.
My first day on his route, I was near the end up on 212th SW
when this huge white dog came charging at my mail jeep.
All fur and teeth and ready to shred me.
I threw the mail in the box and shoved up my window.
This happened every day for two months!
One Friday afternoon I arrived with the mail in one hand and a
jelly doughnut in the other.
I was in my own little Get the Right Mail in the Right Box world
when the dog charged me.
Startled, I threw my doughnut at the ferocious dog.
Said dog, opened wide and caught the doughnut in its mouth.
Then The Dog quit barking, sat down, and started wagging its tail.
The following day was hot and I was getting miserable.
I opened the door on my little mail-jeep to cool off.
Driving with your door open is a huge no no.
I have two friends that have accidentally fallen out.
So I arrived near The Dog's house and The Dog Owner Man
is pulling weeds in his front yard and
his pony of a dog is sleeping on the front porch.
Next thing I know,
The Dog is sitting on my lap,
in the mail truck,
licking my face.
The Dog Owner Man walks over with an astonished expression and says,
"Wow! Sitka doesn't usually like ANYBODY!"

Sunday, October 9, 2011

10/9/2011 I'll Never Swear Again

That didn't work out too well for me.
Trying to put the house to bed
when you're really tired is just a bad idea.
I grabbed the oval glass baking dish
off the dining room table, plunked it in the sink,
squirted Dawn in it and went to clear the table.
Went around and locked all the doors.
Got that done and noticed some juicy looking blackberry cobbler drippings
in the bottom of the baking dish.
Looked like the kids missed some.
Dug my thumb in and scraped some cobbler up into my mouth.
Forgot about the Dawn dish-washing liquid.
Still taste it after rinsing,
sneaking some of Teddy's Arizona iced tea,
a banana and toothpaste.
Now I know how it melts grease.
Greasy profanity.
I'll never swear again.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

10/8/2011 The Coincidental Sweater That Wasn't

Part of the job description
for being my best friend,
is helping me to shop.
I hate shopping for clothes!
To me, clothes are what you cover yourself with
to avoid being arrested for indecent exposure.
Luckily, my best friend Brenda is a clothes horse.
I'm always shocked when I look at her closet
and she can't believe I only own two pairs of jeans.
The summer of 2010 we had our 35th year
Roosevelt high school reunion.
I had bought a dress previously, but I needed cute shoes.
Brenda was in town to visit her family so I asked her for help.
I needed an expert.
We got up to Bothell to The Alligator Purse
and started browsing the racks.
I was looking at sweaters and couldn't believe my eyes.
I shouted to Brenda, who was a few racks away,
"Look! They have a sweater EXACTLY like the one
I donated to St. Vincent De Paul three years ago!
What a coincidence!"
Brenda walked over, stood close to me,
and kicked me in the shins under the clothes rack.
My eyes filled with tears of pain and shock.
"Shhhhh!" She whispered. "I just put that there."
It dawned on me that my best friend was up to no good.
Again.
I found some darling black leather high-heeled,
backless shoes with black leather roses on top
and was pretty excited. They even had fake
leopard spot linings!
When we got in my mini van and I asked Brenda what
on earth she was doing with my gray Winnie the Pooh sweater.
Turns out that after I put it on my front porch
in my donation bag three years ago,
she loved it so much that she snuck it out
without telling me.
She didn't want me to know that she had worn it three years.
Then when she got tired of it, she had smuggled it into
The Alligator Purse to get rid of it.
Can you believe that?!

10/8/2011 Is This Your First Baby?

When Troy was five months old,
I carried him all around the house.
When you wait until you are thirty-seven
to have your first baby,
you carry them everywhere and
never let anyone touch them.
Around five PM one night,
I was sitting on my bed
playing with my baby.
Terry came home from work and walked in the room.
Troy saw his daddy,
and shot towards him off the bed
like he got shot out of a cannon!
I wasn't fast enough to grab him
and he fell on his head on the floor.
He started screaming so loud,
that I ran and called 911
while Terry sat on the bed and held him.
I ran out to the road to bring the paramedics in.
They came down the stairs and into the room
and examined our baby.
After a thorough exam the fire fighter asked me,
"Is this your first baby?"
Through heavy tears I told him he was.
Then he informed me that my baby was fine
and that whenever they fall, they cry.
I still feel bad about that.
I feel bad about a lot of things
as a mother. Bad and guilty.
I did my best and Troy is a fantastic person,
and the moral of this story is:
Babies cry all the time
so try not to worry so much.

10/8/2011 The New Baby

People might think that my stories
are about babies since they all fall
under the name: Baby Boomalilies.
I wanted to call them Baby Boomerlilies,
but that sounded stupid compared to
Baby Boomalilies. Boomaliles sounds like
that Cub Scout camp song, 'Boom Chicka'
to me. I loved singing that song!
But since baby is in name here is
a baby story about Troy.
Seventeen years ago we had a baby.
Terry got to pick out the names for
the boy babies and I got to pick out
the names for the girl babies.
So he names Troy for himself and his dad.
Terrence Egbert Nixon III.
AKA, Troy.
So when Troy was two months old,
I was sitting in the gold rocking chair
rocking him after he had his bottle.
His eyes started rolling back in his head!
I panicked and called 911.
The operator took down all the information
and I begged her to send an ambulance.
I was sure my new baby was having a seizure
and needed a doctor immediately.
It took the operator a few minutes to
write down all the information
and then she asked,
"What is your baby doing now?"
I looked down at my sleeping baby.
"He's asleep." I said.
The operator asked me,
"Is this your first baby?"
I told her he was my first baby.
She said, "Did you know that when babies
fall asleep their eyes roll back in their heads?"
Well, I was certainly embarrassed since I had read the,
'What to Expect' books over and over again.
Musta missed that chapter.
I admitted that I didn't know that interesting fact and
I thanked her for her time
and I thanked God for my healthy baby.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

10/5/2011 My Husband the Hypochondriac

"Go to the doctor!"
I raised my voice and tried to herd Terry
out the door. The front door wouldn't
shut because the teenagers had slammed it,
hung on it, locked each other out and
tried to push their way back in.
He decided fixing the door was more important than
his appointment. I physically blocked his
return into the house for tools and he left.
A few weeks ago he started having to use the restroom
once an hour and decided he must have bladder
cancer. He read all his medical books,
diagnosed himself and talked to the doctor
on his mail route. Then he came back with an
armload of cures from Seattle Super Supplements,
which luckily for him, is right down our road.
He started taking ground Oregon grape roots,
Super D and several other concoctions.
When he asked my opinion I told him the truth.
He is getting old and going to die someday.
As a lifelong Bladder Day Saint, don't
I wish I only had to use the restroom
once an hour. No sympathy there.
Five years ago he was convinced he had
stomach cancer because he had a tummy ache.
After dozens of doctor's exams
and awful procedures, they deemed
him healthy as a horse.
Told him not to drink four cups of coffee
on an empty stomach every morning.
Then I started getting lots of sub jobs
and cash to help with the bills and he
really felt good. My diagnosis for that?
I think he just had Brokeitis.
Update: Terry came back and the doctor
told him, "This is normal for your age."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

10/4/2011 My Life's Ambition: Attending the Banner Elk Woolly Worm Festival

I'm having a bit of anxiety over the fact that
if I don't get a full time teaching job,
I'll never be able
to fulfill my life's ambition:
Attending the Banner Elk North Carolina
Woolly Worm Festival.
Just think about it!
All those festive people
racing woolly worms up pieces of string!
I found out about the festival while
subbing in a classroom last year
when a social studies specialist
came in the room and showed a slide show about it.
I became obsessed with going to that festival.
If I had any credit on my card,
I'd be on my way to SeaTac right this minute!
I found a woolly worm yesterday, while picking blackberries.
It was nearly all black,
which predicts a severe winter.
I'd love a snowy winter if I
didn't hate being cold and wearing clothes.
I have the best idea for a costume to wear to
the festival too.
Full length black and yellow feather boas
in circles to give me that fluffy sought-after
petable woolly worm look
that I, for one, find irresistible!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

10/2/2010 Mr. Smokin' Hot or How I Did Construction Clean Up at the New Olympia City Hall in 2010

So Friday August 13th,the morning of our formal 35TH year reunion,
Brenda calls me and asks me if I want to work
with her for forty dollars an hour.
Well, duh.
Monday morning I woke up at four AM and was out on the highway
to carpool with Bren and her nephew Eric and his brother-in-law Robert.
Eric had one of those fancy-pants Chevy SUVs that was like
a Cadillac on steroids AND it had a built in TV!
How stupid is a car manufacturer to build that on a dashboard?!
I had brought safety glasses from home and Brenda and I were
in the back seat admiring them and trying them on.
When Eric saw them in his rear-view mirror, he laughed his head off and said,
"Where the heck did you get those, the a NASA store?!"
I discreetly shoved them in the bottom of my backpack.
We were hired to scrub soot at the new city hall in Olympia.
An arsonist had started a fire and before the fire fighters
put out the fire the smoked did three million dollars
worth of damage to the unfinished building.
When we got out of the crew van in Olympia, Brenda and I were
astonished to see a well-endowed hooker with a hair bed.
She was very nice and let us take a picture of her.
We walked over to the equipment van and were given our PPE stuff.
That is construction lingo for personal protective equipment.
We got our hardhats, safety glasses, reflective vests, rubber gloves,
earplugs, dust masks and went to work.
The supervisor was off site so Brenda
and I just followed the other workers.
We were like a trail of ants inside this enormous building!
The rest of the crew had been there for weeks and cleaned the
upper floors so we started our day carrying all the
equipment down from the first floor to the basement.
I had always wanted to go inside a construction site
of a huge building since I was a little girl,
but it turned out to be very scary!
There were electrical cords on the floor everywhere that you had to
watch out for (or be electrocuted) to run all the cleaning machines.
I lost Bren in the maze in ten seconds and just followed
a big tall guy named Chris around.
We carried all kinds of buckets and cleaning stuff
downstairs into the dark labyrinth of the basement.
I kept waiting for an alien monster to pop out of the
ceiling grid-work and attack me any minute!
My safety glasses constantly fogged up from my state of fright.
Chris and I started carrying these long metal parts downstairs
and I accidentally whacked a guy in the head turning a corner
on the stairway landing. I felt terrible
and had to concentrate like crazy not to injure anyone!
Once we had everything downstairs I found out what the
big metal things were.
Scaffolds!
When I turned fifty and quit having bravery hormones,
I became not only afraid of heights, I also get vertigo when up high.
I watched the other workers assembling the scaffolds
with a level of anxiety higher than anything
I'd had since getting ready for my high school reunion
the previous Friday.
It did not help that a floor board fell off the scaffold
and landed on a guys toes.
Luckily he had on steel toed boots.
Brenny found me and we were handed buckets and scrubbers
and assigned a scaffold to scrub soot off the upper
walls and ceilings.
She scrambled up like a happy monkey
and I followed her up, just barely avoiding
puking on myself.
THAT WAS THE LONGEST FOUR HOURS OF MY LIFE!
Brenny is a lot younger and taller than I am
by a year and an inch
so when she started scrubbing at full strength
the floor of our scaffold would bounce like a trampoline.
I would grab the railings to keep from falling off
but they were loosey-goosey and wiggled
a half foot in either direction.
The sheer terror I was feeling had the disadvantageous effect
of making my safety goggles steam up
so then I was blind, deaf from my ear plugs,
bouncing like a ping pong ball
BUT making forty dollars an hour!
At lunch we got to come down and I dragged myself to
the outhouses out across the road from the job site.
I wearily followed ten crew members across the street
to the shaded sidewalk next to the auto parts store.
That was my routine for the next four days.
Drag to the wall, lean back against it and slide
down to the lovely cool concrete sidewalk and gulp as much
fresh air as I could during that half hour.
My career as a construction clean-up artist
took a turn for the better after lunch.
An Albanian gal named Margarita became our lead-person
and we were assigned a luxurious job on the ground.
She was a compact gal in tight black clothing with black
tool belt and tiny black steel-toed boots.
She took to me and Brenny like scrambled eggs
to salt and pepper.
We were sent to a back bathroom to clean these four foot
long white metal light fixtures.
Margarita trained us to disassemble them, clean them
and reassemble them to meet the IH standards.
IH is the industrial hygienist job that she was
certified in. When a job is done, government inspectors
check for soot and if there is one speck it has to be redone!
At the end of the day we had a debriefing in the huge room
by our foreman, whom Brenda and I hadn't met yet.
We were sitting on overturned buckets side-by-side,
Leaning over, resting our arms on our legs,
with the other two dozen co-workers when our foreman showed up.
Brenny threw me an elbow and whispered,
"Check him out."
I removed my steamed up safety glasses and there was Trevor.
He looked like thirty year old Nicholas Cage and Val Kilmer
had been put in a splice machine.
He looked much better than soot and Brenny whispered,
"He's definitely Mr. Smokin' Hot!"
It was so hard not to laugh!
So that was what we called him all week when no one was around
and if people were around we called him, Mr."SH" for code.
It always made us laugh and smile no matter how
hot, tired, exhausted and cranky we were.
I don't know how I got off the scaffolding gig,
but there were enough light fixtures and white cabinets
that needed cleaning to kill a horse.
We got into a rhythm by the third day and felt fairly good
about going to work except for Thursday morning.
I forgot to set my alarm clock.
I was dreaming I had a cleaning crew cleaning my huge
beach house, which doesn't exist in real life,
when Brenny came up to the yard and was calling for me.
She was really talking to my answering machine upstairs.
I woke up and my other clock said 4:50AM and I ran to the
phone and told her to wait on the road.
I jumped in my clothes, flung open the door
and felt the chill air and looked down to
see I was missing my pants!
Once I got those on
I ran to the highway
and hopped in the driver's seat of my van
and drag-raced from Kenmore to Woodinville
and pulled in the parking lot at five AM!
When that job ended, my right arm and shoulder ached
and if I raised my arms my joints
sounded like pop corn popping.
The important thing is that I got to work with my
best friend since 1972, Brenda,
and give Terry HIS allowance.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

10/1/2011 Mushthaikenhausen Soup Recipe

Mushthaikenhausen Soup
1 Wake up with a sore throat and decide you need soup
2 Have a tall kid get down your three gallon pot you can't reach
3 Go out to lunch with your sister at Toshis Teriyaki
and jump up and dance when no one else it there to pop music
4 Eat and chat and drink hot tea
and marvel how much you love your sister
5 Go to the UPS store and admire how tall Austin is
6 Go to Grocery Outlet and buy chicken tenders, mushrooms,
brown rice and grape tomatoes
7 Find your sissy at Dollar Tree and sit on the
Starbucks patio wishing there was a little sun
8 Get home and put two gallons of water in the pot
9 Dump in the chicken and stuff from the store
(send the kids to the store for carrots you don't intend
to add but you need peace and quiet)
10 Toss in anything in the fridge that doesn't look rotten
11 Find dried tomatoes in the cupboard that your mother-in-law left
when she went to snowbird in Arizona and add those
12 Decide you don't like the looks of the dried tomatoes
after all and want to get rid of them
13 Find some Thai rice noodles in the cupboard and vaguely
remember having egg flower soup with those in it
14 Take a baking pan and stir two raw eggs in the bottom
and put the Thai rice noodles on top
15 Attempt to scoop out the dried tomatoes from the soup
and pour them over the stuff in the baking pan
to make a side dish of egg-flower soup
16 Decide that was a huge mistake and dump it all
back in the pot
17 Bring to a boil and hope for the best

10/1/2011 The Summer of Seventeen Snakes

I am not a big fan of snakes.
Now that I'm older, they startle me.
After working on the pristine cruise ship, I decided to beautify my yard.
The only snag was,
I hadn't done any yard work in the front yard for twenty years
and it looked like hell.
One sunny afternoon the first week of August, I came down my mom's wheelchair ramp
and hung over the railing to get an idea of
where to start working the next day.
The ground was moving.
Why was the ground moving?
I stared at the unruly weeds and saw a snake.
Well, that was okay. One snake.
Then I looked more closely and saw two.
Finally, I counted ten!
No big deal I thought, I'm brave, I can deal with it.
The next morning I forgot all about them and
came sauntering down the ramp to my mini van
and nearly stepped on one!
Sassy little snake with attitude.
It gave me the look I give my kids when I'm
sunbathing in my lawn chair with a Jackie Collins novel
and they try to disturb me.   It didn't even hurry off.
I had to stomp at it before it would it slither down between the wooden slats of the ramp.
That's when I noticed the hole.
Turns out that left undisturbed,
the snakes had made a nest under the wheelchair ramp.
So now that I had inadvertently created a snake condo,
how on earth was I going to get rid of them?
Kids!
Best form of cheap labor ever created.
Luckily, Troy hadn't found a summer job
and needed a way to fund his Arizona Ice Tea addiction.
I hired him to catch and relocate the snakes
up to Wallace Creek Swamp Park.
He was good at it too!
Every afternoon when I'd be working in the yard, when he'd hear me screaming,
he'd dash out and fill up his pillowcase with the slimy little friends
and drive them off to the park for a mere two bucks a snake.
Best investment in my mental health I ever made!
Now I had only counted ten snakes that first day
and two weeks later, Troy had caught thirteen,
so I was feeling pretty cocky about
working in my ugly little yard.
Then a teenage snake showed up and I yelled for Troy
and he made short work of catching it and taking off with it for the park.
Then I saw her.
The BIG MOMMY snake.
Three feet long and wide around as a roll of quarters.
She was heading for the hole under the ramp.
I fought my fright and grabbed my rake,
ran up the ramp and leaned over the railing to block her path.
Where was Troy?! He'd been gone twenty minutes!
We were at a stand off.
Four times she approached the ramp as the sun was lowering.
She wanted to go to bed.
I carefully fended off her attempts by leaning over and moving the rake.
She was getting crafty and starting to approach from the sides.
After a half hour she backed up and coiled up.
I was ready, gripping the rake with two hands
leaning over the railing staring her down.
She sprang at the rake and attacked it!
It all happened so fast!
When she hit the hard green plastic rake at full force, it was at a slight angle,
and she shot right up the rake handle at my face!
I screamed and threw the rake and it landed
with mommy snake under the pine tree in the weeds.
My adrenaline was making me shake all over.
The van!
Troy was back!
He got out and I begged him to catch her and make
one more trip to the park. He did.
Teddy and Carlos were with him in the van
and as he pulled out of the driveway
I could see him passing the snake bag to the
back seat for Teddy to hold.
As the bag brushed Carlos's shoulder in the front
seat, I could hear screaming from the
van as it went down the road.
I'm not the only one afraid of snakes.

Friday, September 30, 2011

9/30/2011 Whose Underpants Are Those Anyway?

I can't believe I have
strange underpants hanging on
my coat rack next to my front door.
Ewwww with a capital E.
I think this ongoing problem is related
to having a pool or
living on the swamp or both.
I know when the kids have flipped over the canoe
in the creek because I can smell it.
When I enter the utility room it has a distinct
Eua De Swamp odor. Wish I knew how to spell that.
The Laundry basket sitting on a cooler under
the laundry shoot has slimy sides
that I dread touching.
Thank God there is a sink next to it!
Troy and Teddy's friends rotate around with
such variety I can't keep track of this
underpant situation and
I really don't want to!
After a decade of mobs of kids
I have put limits on the number of visitors
so my kids get to eat so
I can narrow the suspected owners to about ten.
But I am so uncomfortable saying,
"Carlos, are those your underpants?"
I mean if they were, does that mean
he isn't wearing any?
ACK!
Those underpants have been hanging there for two weeks!
Don't boys miss their underpants?!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

9/29/2011 I Hate Shopping For Unmentionables (for ladies only)

I hate shopping for unmentionables.
When Brenny was here last Christmas she took pity on me
and did her best friend duty to get me ready for my cruise ship job.
We went up to Alderwood Mall and marched in.
Well, she marched in like a soldier
and I ran after her because
she is one inch taller than me and likes to flaunt it.
We went into Macys, which I still call Bon Macys
because I'm a native Seattleite and I'm used to saying "The Bon."
I handed the cute young lingerie
sales girl my bra that I nearly liked
that I had brought along.
She had the biggest "Ewww" expression
for a 1/16Th of a second before she sauntered off to the right rack.
I hate shopping for bras even more than wearing them
if that's possible!
The last time Brenny and I went two years ago,
we spent four hours shopping at all five retail outlets
at Northgate without success before she gently told me
that no bra would be comfortable until I lost twenty pounds.
Well of course she was right
and now that I've lost a few pounds, my bra is
not quite the device of torture it was two years ago.
Well, the day we shopped two years ago we didn't find anything
that I could tolerate.
The next week I went solo to Macy's at Alderwood and found one.
This time with Brenny the saleslady grabbed me three more off the rack
since I had one with me to ID the new ones!
Took five seconds.
The moral to this story is:
If you hate shopping too, take a sample with you
and you don't have to try anything on.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

9/28/2011 If You Spanked My Spanx You'd Break Your Hand

After I applied for a cruise ship job,
I panicked about my figure or lack of thereof
and my interview was coming up fast.
So Brenny and I dashed to Alderwood Mall
Nordstroms for my first Spanx.
I drove because you'd think she was from
Ballard not Greenlake if you got in a car with her.
I was so excited because I had heard my young
friends in their forties talking about them!
One thing men never know from experience
is how fattening being a wife and mother is!
Totally brutal to see Terry and the kids eating 10,000
calories a day and never gaining weight.
So we got to Nordstroms and met the most wonderful saleslady in the world.
Her name was Kathy Lauterbach and she was warm, friendly
and very knowledgeable.
Plus she didn't look like she was getting ready to dash off
to a disco like some of the younger salesladies do.
So I told her I wanted a Spanx
and she knew (probably from looking at me)
exactly what I needed!
I was very excited until I tried on what she gave me.
My Spanx could not cope
and rolled right down my back!!!
So Kathy brought me a shorter Spanx and if you
spanked my Spanx you would have broken your hand!
You could have flicked a quarter against my butt
and had a twenty foot rebound.
Seriously.
Well it turns out that Spanx does not make a product
quite generous enough for my well-rounded body
and I felt so dejected.
After pouring my copious self unsuccessfully
into several Spanx,
I appreciated Brenny not laughing at me.
Or worse yet scolding me for being the pig God made me.
Luckily, Kathy knew right what to do!
She told me that there was a product she used occasionally
from a company that has been around forever
that might be just right for me.
And it was!
She brought me a TC brand
EVEN MORE pantie.
And was it even more wonderful than anything I could hope for.
So I bought that and call it my Spanx even though it's not
because Spanx is such a cute name.
Brenny looked so relieved that I was happy
because she knows how much I want a cruise ship job.
You have to look presentable when you are working with the public.
She bought me lunch at the food court
where I made a terrible pig of myself
because I was armed with my Spanx-like product
in my la-dee-da silver Nordstrom shopping bag
with its sturdy twine handle.
Bren naturally ordered the Japanese curried vegetable platter
while I ordered everything they could deep fry in batter.
Ummm, tempura. Yet permura on your booty.
After lunch our crankiness subsided and we were ready
for one more round of earring shopping.
But that's another story.

9/29/2010 Connie and Babs Go To The Casino

Last week Connie organized going down to the
Emerald City Casino to see a show!
Oh my God!
I never had so much fun in my life!
Connie and Babs picked me up in Connie's minivan
and we sang along to old eighties hits
at the top of our lungs all the way to Tacoma!
She reserved a room so we could have drinkie winkies
and we checked in
had a few margaritas
and then went to see
Spike and the Impalers.
It was a great rock-n-roll show
with many of the classics from when I was a teen
from Led Zepplin and Jimi Hendrix.
Thank God I could surreptiously sneak my foam earplugs
into my ears sine the music got louder since 1972.
After the show we went to the casino and Connie
gave me roulette lessons. I had always wanted to try it.
I had broken even and it was midnight and Babs
came to go with us back to the room.
Connie looked at me and said,
"Gretchen. You have not been to a concert since 1972
or had a 'Girl's Night Out' all year.
I want you to play all your winnings right now."
So I put out my twenty chips all over with triple on
Troy's birthday and then right before the ball dropped
I yelled at the top of my lungs, "RED SEVEN!"
When it dropped there the two dozen people there
let their jaws drop open
and they all just stared at me.
Well, I won eighty dollars which paid for my share
of the concert and hotel.
When we got back to our room,
We made more margaritas and put on our jammies
and laughed all night long.
I'm not kidding.
I woke up hoarse from laughing so much.
Connie is a natural born comedian and
Babs has a personality is one of those very rare combinations
of friendliness, warmth and good humor
combined with intelligence, creativity
and acceptance.
I've rarely heard her say one bad word about anyone in
the decade I have known her.
It is rather shocking
how wonderful she is.
I wonder if she knows how people see her
with amazement?
So, when I start this new job I'll
start a 'Babs and Connie Fun Fund"
and look forward to going to a show with them again.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

9/27/2011 Wrestling Match With My Chair

If you booze you lose.
It's that simple and I shoulda' known better.
I can NOT hold my liquor one little bit.
Makes me sick as a dog for days.
But Friday, after subbing all day I needed to unwind
so I made the nastiest drink in history:
"The Substitute"
Recipe: 2TBS sugar, 1TSP cherry Kool Aid powder,
one cup brandy. Stir over 6 big ice cubes.
Sure I was asleep in five minutes.
I woke up Saturday morning feeling like a zombie.
I got my coffee and sat down in my little green Lazy-Boy
and started my daily ritual of job hunting.
After a half hour, I needed more coffee.
My laptop power cord had fallen down the footrest of my chair.
No problem right?
I went to pull out the cord
and it got stuck in the metal bars under the
main part of the chair.
I didn't feel good.
I put the footrest down and turned the chair on it's side.
I crawled down and looked at the cord and decided to
put the footrest up.
But doing that made the cord more stuck.
So I tugged on the cord
and effectively got it totally wedged in the metal bars.
So I put the chair back upright
and pushed down on the backrest.
Now the cord really stuck in the bars under the chair.
So I pull up on the backrest.
Who knew a backrest can come off the tracks
right into your bare hands?
Trust me.
It can.
So I turn the chair upside down and I'm
seeing the tiny end of the power cord stucker than stuck
in the metal bars and decide to bite the bullet.
I pull as hard as I can
and the cord dislodges!
I couldn't believe that when
I plugged it in and it stilled worked.
I very carefully lifted up the heavy backrest
and lined up the metal fittings and slid
it back onto it's tracks.
Then I got another cup of coffee
and sat down on one of my wooden chairs at the
kitchen tables to read the paper.
Good old trustworthy wood.

Monday, September 26, 2011

9/26/2011 What Does Bother Me On Our Wedding Anniversary

I remember sitting at the Bothell Post Office
break room in 1986 eating a sandwich before
going out to deliver the mail in Holly Hills.
The "New kid", Terry, was about twenty-five
and he was babbling on about his job at a marina
on Vashon Island.
I was struck that his head looked perfectly round
like Charlie Brown.
His awful, long straggly beard reminded me
of serial killer Charles Manson.
He seemed friendly enough.
About a month later he called me at home.
I had no idea who he was since he hadn't generated
much interest to me but he said he worked with me.
That seemed odd because our personal information
is not allowed to be given out.
He admitted years later that while he was working
late one time he went in the supervisor's desk and
got my phone number.
He sounded nice and I had been looking for a
health club buddy and invited him to go.
We went for about six months and got to be friends.
He was still nasty-looking but when I showed my
sister Pam a photograph of him she exclaimed,
"He looks like a movie star!"
I thought he looked like an ugly cross of
Charlie Brown and Charles Manson.
So I asked him to trim his beard one day
and low and behold, he did look like a movie star.
Geez I was so shallow back at twenty-nine!
So we started shacking up at the end of 1986
and got married in 1992.
Now on our nineteenth wedding anniversary
It does not bother me that he is very fat
because there is more of him to love.
It does not bother me that I need to run
my weed-wacker over his chest and back
if I want to feel his skin
because he is my giant 270 LB Teddy Bear.
It doesn't bother me that his front tooth is black
from getting elbowed in a basketball game
because some hot forty-year old won't want to steal him.
What DOES bother me is that
when he sits in his gold recliner,
and I walk past him,
I see his expiration mark
showing through his thinning hair.
And I know I only have twenty or thirty years left
to love him.
Now THAT bothers me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

9/25/2011 Teenage Boys Sawing Trees Dangerously

My goodness,
what the kids won't do to kill me!
We live on the edge of a forty acre swamp
and the squirrels continually plant trees
of every kind everywhere.
The hazelnut trees started scraping the paint
off the sides of my mini van this summer
along the side of our driveway.
So I bribed the kids to let their friends
sleep over in the land of Kool Aid,
popcorn, pizza and zombie destruction
in exchange for sawing down trees.
I have small, sharp handsaws that I let them use.
We've only had to go to the ER once
and that led to the implementation of
the leather glove to saw rule.
We've had no accidents since the rule began.
But last night, I made the mistake of
spying on Troy and Sean.
What did I see?
Two teenage boys sawing the same small tree
at the same location opposite each other
with very sharp saws.
What did I do?
Nothing much.
Took out my foam earplugs, and removed
my orange Home Depot noise-blocking headset
and waited for the yell down the stairs
that there was blood.
No blood, no foul.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

9/18/2011 My Ugly Backyard Reality TV Show

I just applied for a job on reality TV.
My pal, Murray Sawchuck, the magician from my
Pride of America cruise ship stint this spring,
just put an ad on Facebook.
My Ugly Backyard is probably not what they are calling it.
I was on the way out the door to work in my
ugly backyard when I saw his advertisement.
I am highly qualified for that job!
In 1978 I spent an entire year digging ditches
for the City of Seattle Engineering department.
How cool would it be to work on a backyard
with a magician?
Whenever we got tired of digging,
he could just make the dirt disappear, right?
On the ship he had an awesome trick where
he made a bouquet of flowers disappear.
It was so funny I nearly fell out of my chair
all eight times I watched it.
So if the show is in Las Vegas,
he could modify the trick to make like a giant
Suargo cactus disappear!

9/18/2011 They Called Me Lollipop

I've been applying for some seasonal jobs
on the cruise ships down in the Caribbean.
I haven't given up on a local job
but I quit holding my breath.
When I worked on The Pride of America cruise ship
last spring, all the youth staff had to have silly names.
I really wanted Grouchen, since that's what I was at the
post office because hitting the time clock at six AM
for ten years never sat well with me.
But the ship staff thought that might scare the
younger kids so I picked Peaches.
Well the safety officer, Priscilla, said
she didn't want me to have it since it
was her childhood nick name.
So a darling little five year old named Hannah,
named me Lollipop
and it stuck.
The only snag was I didn't answer to it for a month.
When you are Gretchen for fifty-four years
you get used to it.
That was why I wanted Peaches.
It at least has that cha cha cha sound in it.
So they called me Lollipop for two months.
But did you know if you are typing really fast
that it comes out Loolipoop?

2/16/2011 Acronym Overload for The Cruise Ship Job

My cousin Elizabeth forbid me from talking
to her in acronyms yesterday.
When it comes to the government,
there is obviously no such thing as
too many acronyms.
My MMC went through the USCG and that credential replaced
the old MMD and MML,
but I was still required to get my TWIC.
I found it very fascinating to read about the
ISO and the SOLAS!
I printed a few pages for Terry to read
but when I saw the SOLAS was in response
to the Titanic,
I stopped printing!
He would NEVER come visit me at work if he read that.
He loves that Titanic movie
and I thought it was okay when it came out
but I'm sure not going to watch it again before I
start my new job on the cruise ship!
I'm afraid of the dark!
Seriously, I will be lucky to make it through
one contract on The Pride of America.
When I was a flight attendant,
I was homesick, airsick and terrified of take offs
for the ENTIRE eight years.
The LAST thing I need in my little brain
is the idea of a sinking ship!
Imagine an old lady like me at fifty-four
passing those five levels of USCG requirements.
As the kids say, TTYL.

2/28/2011 Don't Touch My Washing Machine!

I am so fed up with my husband.
I can't WAIT to go to work on the cruise ship!
So, six months ago the dial on my old, rusty Maytag
began to act up.
I had to manually advance it through each cycle.
Sounds easy right?
That was for the first three months.
Then the dial and machine
had a fight and weren't talking to each other.
It was like playing roulette to rinse
the clothes.
Then I'd pray to find a working spin cycle.
So two months ago, Terry decides to "FIX"
my washing machine.
He snaked out the drain.
Well, the drain wasn't broken!
But he managed to prevent the machine from draining at all.
Well, you know I am a bad wife.
I decided not to get it repaired before I fly out to work.
I have been manually wringing out the wash for two months.
I could probably beat you at arm-wrestling!
Last week I was in my room and I could hear Terry
spinning the dial on the washing machine.
I yelled through the wall, "Don't touch the washing machine!"
I told him I had to add fabric softener.
Like I have bothered with that in twenty-five years of marriage.
When he drops me off at Sea Tac Saturday,
I just KNOW he'll get all excited to be Mr. Mom.
And then...
He will try to wash clothes.
And then...
I'm a horrible person!
People are always surprised
to find out how evil I can be.

9/18/2011 A Canteen for my Birthday, How Romantic

I'd like to thank the inventors of flannel PJs,
polarfleece pullovers and most importantly, GORTEX.
When Terry bought me my jacket in 1986,
I didn't think it was very romantic-
but it still keeps me dry!
When you live near Seattle,
gortex is the Holy Grail of fashion.
Today was the first cold, rainy day
of what will be the norm here for the next nine months.
I'm still shocked when people tell me they
actually moved here from Southern California.
I wouldn't live here in a million years
if I hadn't been born here.
Not the spot for a sun-loving girl.
But with the right equipment,
I've survived.
Like when I turned thirty and opened my gift.
All I could think was,
"A canteen, how romantic."
But you know what?
That canteen saved my life one time.
It was a hot August day and Troy and Teddy
and I jumped in the van to pick up gear
for scout camp and we got so thirsty!
We were stuck at that horrible
five way stop in downtown Bot hell forever.
I reached down for my trusty canteen
and realized that my husband is a saint.
The patron saint of survival gear!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

9/17/2011 KJH Inglmoor Viking Football Sleepover

I must have half the KJH football team
on my living room floor.
They look so small and innocent
all curled up in little balls...
Teddy has such nice friends.
They all pitch in and clean up after themselves.
Last time they were here I almost
passed out from shock when they got up
and put the sleeping bags away
and did the dishes and swept the floor!
Is it an age thing because
they are fifteen now
and when they are seventeen they will
turn into total slobs like Troy's friends?
The shocker was when I asked if I could sit in
my own chair.
The blessed green recliner that I covet.
I'm so used to Carlos
draped over my chair
like some big hairy unmoveable starfish,
that when Hanna got up
I thought the world would stop spinning!
Young teenagers.
Only time will tell.

Friday, September 16, 2011

9/16/2011 The Jobless Olympics: Senior Division

I woke up feeling lucky.
I'm going to drop off an updated resume
at the new Kookmore library.
Just because I've now been passed over
for close to 1,000 jobs for eight years
by five school districts doesn't mean I'll give up.
If there was a senior division for jobless Olympics,
I'd get a gold medal!
I can see all us jobless Baby Boomers
down at QWEST Field.
We'd be lined up at one end
and at the other end would be the challenges.
Run down and type a flawless resume with no errors
Run down and type a flawless cover letter with no errors
Run down and select a Dress for Success outfit
Run down and give a panel of judges perfect interview
answers with perfect elocution and ennunciation
And the GOLD MEDAL goes to:
Gretchen Nixon

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

9/14/2011 Year Eight in the Sub Pool

Uh oh. Looks like another school year started without me.
Year eight in the sub pool coming up.
So what is funny or cheerful about being a sub?
Well, at the Inglemoor Varsity football game
last Friday night at Pop Keeney Field,
I was face painting Blake Elliot,
an 11th grader I knew and he said,
"I remember when I was in 5th grade and
you were helping Jacob with his essay
and you were so hungry you grabbed a french fry
off his tray that he had already taken a bite of."
I just about died at the thought of the boy spit,
but that lumpy essay had a strong voice about
his fifth grade football experience and after an
hour of editing through lunchtime together,
it was great. He was brilliant.
He won free tickets to something for it.
Some things
you just can't put a price tag on.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

9/13/2011 Trade Ya My Couch For a Tree Cut

Teenagers have a price.
The fastest way to get them to move
is to offer cash.
Nasty jobs they do for free
always require the removal of the X-Box.
But there are a few other things teen boys enjoy.
Like sleeping over at my house
and demolishing it.
The damage is always accidental,
but still.
Luckily, I made the decision
a few years ago,
to just replace my house after they move out.
My stress level dropped to nothing.
But, we live next to a forty acre swamp
and the blackberries and volunteer trees
are constantly trying to eat the house.
So, one of my newer strategies
has been the removal of trees that
scrape the paint off my mini-van.
I can always count on Troy's best friend
Carlos to saw the trees down
in exchange for my couch.
I can't even call it my couch anymore
because it really belongs to Carlos
by squatter's rights.
So come Friday I'll have a little tree
picked out that needs to go.
While I still have paint left on my van.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/12/2011 Not My Pewter Ladel!

Having two teenage sons has
desensitized me to the household damage
to some extent.
Especially when they have their friends
over.
For each teenager, the damage is
exponential, not additional.
I'm not sure why that is
but I know it to be a fact.
I have tried to detach emotionally
from all my possessions for this reason.
I'd need the whole world wide web to list
all the things my kids and their friends
have demolished around here.
Usually I just accept it and figure
someday they'll have jobs and they
can replace the walls, floors, furniture
and items that have been damaged.
But this was different.
As I looked in the kitchen garbage can,
there was my pewter ladle.
It was a wedding present from my Auntie Lois.
Troy's friend Devin had used it for an
ice cream scoop!
Does a ladle REALLY look like an ice cream scoop?
I guess it did to him.
I took the pieces to the living room
and held it up to the circle of teens
busily killing zombies on their video game
and asked who had broken it.
Devin had the good manners to admit
his crime and apologize.
It's nice to have at least one Eddie Haskell.

9/12/2011 My Ugly Kitchen Towels

Well, Teddy was right this time.
He held up a rag last week and said,
"When was the last time you bought kitchen towels mom?"
I looked at the rag and tried to remember.
Here's a good rule of thumb:
If you can't remember when you bought the towel
it is too old.
I couldn't even see the cute pale blue goose
on that old towel that I knew was there in...
What year did we buy the house?
1991.
No wonder that towel looked bad.
Time for the rag bag.
I did have some marginally better looking towels
that my sister Pam has given me over the years.
She knows that kitchen towels are something I
never remember to replace.
Do you have something that you hate to shop for?
Or something that you dislike shopping for?
Kitchen towels fall into both categories for me.
So, luckily a brand new Ross store opened
last month and I went down and found a
smokin' hot deal on cute kitchen towels.
Five for $3.99!
Since I hadn't shopped for kitchen towels since 1991,
it was a rather time consuming endeavor.
I had to sit on the floor because they
were all on the bottom racks.
I chose four matching packages that contained a
variety of colors and some cute artsy chef on a bicycle
that I know I have seen on art somewhere.
So last night Teddy holds up a bath towel
with frayed edges and says...

9/12/2011 You Left Your Retainer Where?

Caution: This blog may cause
nausea. Do not read before or after meals.
So just as we were falling asleep around
ten last night I went upstairs
to remind Troy to put in his retainer.
He was already asleep and said groggily,
"I left it by the pool on a beach sheet in a bag."
I went in his room and looked at the sleepy
lump and said, "You left your retainer where?"
I remembered it. I had gone to gather up the sheets
for the laundry and seen a wadded up piece of plastic
and I had tossed it in the garbage.
Normally this wouldn't be a big deal,
but the stars were in a grand trine.
This meant anything orthodontic
would be icky and dangerous.
Terry and I shuffled up to the road
where our trash tote sat under the
beautiful full moon.
Under the moonlight we dumped the
last two bags of garbage onto the
edge of the road.
Twenty years ago this was not
what we usually did under the full moon.
I had the short straw this time
and ended up with the kitchen sack.
Luckily for Terry and unluckily for me,
he had caught a nice fat six pound
humpy salmon on the Snohomish River in
the morning. So, not only did I have the
cooked fish remains to sift through,
I also had the bloody head and spine
to add to my trauma.
Toss in the ubiquitous coffee grounds
and cantalope guts and rinds
and it was a LONG half hour.
I went through that mess three times
before I recognized the walnut-sized
wadded up Saran wrap containing
the small red prize.
Troy's retainer.

9/12/'11 Walking Around With a Eighty Pound TV

Well, that was something different.
Surprising the sheriff didn't
turn up at my door!
Teddy went to a birthday party
Saturday night and came back about eleven
and yelled down the stairs,
"Mom, I got invited to sleep over
and came back for pajamas."
Well, that triggered my Momdar.
He hasn't worn pajamas since he was twelve.
So I go back to reading my latest
trashy Jackie Collins novel
and at eleven-thirty I hear Teddy yelling,
"Mom! Mom! I'm back!"
I race upstairs and he's covered with sweat
and I asked him what had happened.
Apparently, his friend Mikey
convinced him that their friend
Michael's party would be so much
better with a second TV.
That way, more of them could play video games together.
Teddy and Mikey came and picked up
Teddy's "pajamas" while I was downstairs
reading, only to have dad Jon say, "NO."
Only Mikey wouldn't help with the
return trip, which left Teddy
carrying an eighty pound television
ten blocks through downtown Kenmore!
I'm lucky the sheriff didn't notice him.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11/2011 I Miss My BOSS Vacuum Cleaner

The people that designed bagless vacuum cleaners
never cleaned my house. Yes, I'm grateful Terry
bought a new one while I was working on the ship,
BUT, I don't want to see the dirt,
let alone think about where it came from.
I miss my Eureka BOSS. It was comforting to pat the bag,
like you would a baby diaper and think,
"All full, time to go."
It was a happy shock to open my closet
for the first time to clean the rugs
after working on the cruise ship
and finding a brand new vacuum cleaner.
My BOSS had broken six months before
I deployed and I had been using an electric broom.
That only took six hours to clean our small house!
So I vacuumed the first time with this new-fangled
vacuum cleaner with a clear plastic canister.
It was like watching a train wreck.
I was repulsed and thrilled at the same time.
More repulsed than thrilled seeing the dirt
come swirling around as I progressed
through the house.
The next three times I vacuumed,
I was liking being able to see
the results of my efforts.
And then yesterday,
I had had it.
While emptying the canister,
which reminds me of a blender but instead
of getting a fluffy margarita I'm getting dirt,
I hit the wall of revulsion.
I imagined all the teenagers stomping through
the house in their giant size thirteen shoes,
and where the shoes might have been,
and decided this new machine has got to go.
If I'm not getting a fluffy margarita
from the canister,
I'm going back to bags!

Friday, September 9, 2011

9/8/2011 Teddy's First Football Game

That was exciting.
Watching my kid play in his first
football game.
Only snag was, I didn't see him.
With his freshman group mixed with the
Viking sophomore group, there were
over sixty guys on our team!
Perfect night for football though
with my furry husband and friend Angela.
She is Teddy's pal Mike's mom.
Clear, hot night with a near-full moon rising over the
field bursting with testosterone.
Geez those kids had fun.
I watched my kid standing on the sideline the whole time
and darn if they didn't put him in the last ten minutes of the game!
On the last play, I could hear a familiar young voice
shouting out the numbers
and I was thinking he sounded
just like Teddy.
Well it was Teddy.
Boy was he hopping mad I didn't see him run out
on the field and see him play.
Wasn't until we were all in the mini-van riding
home and Angela and I were gasping for air
over the vile smell of the players,
that I found out he got to play.
Once it got dark,
I had trouble seeing the numbers
even with the field lights!
Drawback of being an old mom.
So I told him to yell at me next time he went in.
That went over like a lead balloon,
but we'll work something out.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

9/7/2011 The New Football Mom or Statman Strikes Again!

We are a basketball family.
I LOVE watching my kids play that
fast and exciting sport,
so you can imagine my surprise
when out of the blue,
my mini-me, Teddy, tells me he
wants to play football.
The most brutal sport of all.
I have anxiety attacks every time someone gets injured
so it is hard to watch for me.
But, apparently, boys like to get injured
and injure each other, so I did not
object to my fifteen year old ninth grader
starting football this summer.
It has been fun and interesting and surprising so far.
They had a jamboree last weekend
and I nearly came off the stands
when some sophomore he pushed back
was roughing him up.
I'll have to learn to stay in my seat.
Yesterday,Teddy came home from football practice
with his first yellow and black game jersey on and
sits down to dinner. Terry looks at him and says,
"58 is a great number. Hall of Famer Jack Lambert had
that number from '70 to '80 and he was the
best middle linebacker in history.
No one could get through the Steel Curtain."
This from a man that can't put the dishes in
the right cupboard after twenty years in the same house.